Fellowes (formerly Fellowes Manufacturing) produces office products that can organize or obliterate. The leading maker of paper shredders (such as Powershred and Intellishred), it also makes binding and laminating machines, records storage products, ergonomic workspace supplies, desk organizers, and computer accessories. The company offers fashionable cases for mobile phones and cameras through its license with surf gear maker Body Glove International. Fellowes' products are sold through office supply retailers and mass merchants, as well as online. Still owned and run by the Fellowes family, the firm was started in 1917 when Harry Fellowes paid $50 for Bankers Box, a maker of storage boxes for bank records.
Fellowes has expanded its product lineup over the years through acquisitions and innovations, including the addition of binding and laminating products to its business machines segment. Amid the global economic downturn, however, the company shifted its focus to its core revenue generator: shredders. In 2010 the company introduced the Microshred Series, which helps to prevent identity theft by reducing sheets of paper into flakes. The company estimates that Microshred Series machines can turn one page into 3,000 particles, compared to nearly 400 particles by the average shredder.
The company ended its joint venture with Chinese manufacturer Jiangsu Shinri Machinery, which commandeered Fellowes' factory in Changzhou, China, in 2009; locked out factory workers; halted product shipments; and stopped payments to vendors. Fellowes was also banned from the Changzhou factory to collect its injection molding tools and other physical and intellectual property, which the company said was of "intangible value." Jiangsu Shinri took over the factory to force Fellowes into changing their contract, whereby control and financial gain of the joint venture would shift to Jiangsu Shinri. Fellowes has said products made in its Changzhou factory generated about a third of its revenues, and the shredder giant has had to find new sources to supply the affected commercial, professional, and SOHO shredders. Though it attracted support from both the US and Chinese governments, the conflict was still ongoing in 2011. Fellowes believes that the court in Changzhou will likely seize and auction its assets there to compensate unpaid vendors, and Jiangsu Shinri looks to be in a position to buy all of the property at a fraction of the market price. (Fellowes was refused participation in the auction process.)
The company has operations in about 15 countries, including Australia, Japan, Russia, the UK, and the US. It markets its products in another 10 nations worldwide through distribution partnerships. – less